Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nelsen Welcomes Tough Choices as Toronto FC Readies for Possible Player Influx

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nelsen Welcomes Tough Choices as Toronto FC Readies for Possible Player Influx

Article excerpt

Tough decisions loom for Toronto FC


TORONTO - With Toronto FC looking to strengthen its roster, primarily in central midfield and striker, manager Ryan Nelsen has some tough decisions ahead.

And, while polite and soft-spoken, the former New Zealand international clearly has no problems wielding a scalpel with his lineup. As he was on the pitch as a defender who made the most of his skills, Nelsen will do whatever it takes.

As manager, from squad selection to choosing his starting 11, Nelsen has one guiding force.

"It's what's going to get us the win," he said after practice Tuesday. "This is a professional environment, it's not about massaging egos or anything like that. My door's always open. As I said it's about getting three points and if people are more interested in worrying about their own spot than Toronto getting three points, this is probably not the place to be.

"But no players in this club are like that. They're all really good guys, they're solid professionals, they understand that everybody gets a fair deal and in the end, it's whatever's best for the team."

Canadian midfielder Matt Stinson was waived Tuesday, the victim of a numbers game and an expected influx of new talent into the MLS club.

Nelsen paid tribute to the 21-year-old, who made 25 appearances in two seasons, calling him a "good professional" and a "fantastic servant."

"Unfortunately there just wasn't enough room as we're moving forward," he said.

Toronto (1-2-0) is inching closer to signing an Argentine player, believed to be 22-year-old forward Maximiliano Urruti of Newell's Old Boys.

Nelsen says the deal is 90 to 95 per cent done, with the rocky financial situation of the Argentine club having slowed the transaction.

Several other new signings are expected, meaning more roster decisions.

"Yes and that's great, that's really good," Nelsen said. "Now with a couple of guys coming back from injury, we're looking deeper now and that's been our problem. We haven't had a very deep squad."

Goalkeeper is a good example. Stefan Frei has been the starter in years gone by but missed all of last season with a leg injury. Restored to health, he broke his nose during the first pre-season game in 2013.

That has given Joe Bendik a chance and the former Portland Timbers goalie has been excellent.

Frei practised Tuesday without a protective face mask but Nelsen seemed to indicate that Bendik still has the upper hand.

"Joe's been absolutely fantastic. Stefan's been absolutely fantastic. But you have to look at time in between the net. Unfortunately Stefan's had that big injury and then he's had the nose break. He hasn't had much time in goal.

"Nobody's guaranteed a spot here and everybody understands that."

Midfielders Luis Silva and Julio Cesar both practised Tuesday but Nelsen cautioned they had plenty to catch up on due to injury layoffs. …

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